Early years community corner: ‘Whole Body Listening…is it really that bad?’

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Kerry Murphy (@eyfs4me on Instagram) uses her wealth of knowledge of child development and experience in teaching children and adults to reflect on whether children should be expected to listen with their whole body.



‘To be clear, I am not saying that it isn't frustrating when trying to support large groups of children with learning. It can be super annoying and exhausting. But that frustration has a whole lot to do with my self-regulation ability and a lot less to do with the actual children, their abilities and their diversity of learning.’ ‘The thing that frustrates me with whole-body listening is that it actually diminishes the key skills we need for learning, engagement and regulation.’ @eyfs4me





Her perspective of how, even though adults are responsible for creating the expectation of whole body listening, they ‘cannot, should not and will not use’ the rule for themselves is striking. The impact of this intention is clear.




So, what do we use instead?





‘The Kinetic Scale’ mentioned above is taken from the book ‘A Moving Child is a Learning Child.’

When children are listening they may also ‘stim.’ ‘We should not attempt to force compliance against stimming.’





Once the children are listening comfortably, it's time to look at how we can support children to communicate too - introducing the sound dials…

Finally, it is worth noting this adult created expectation for whole body listening, resulting in a child with neurodivergence being ‘told-off for fidgeting and not being able to sit still in class’ is considered to be ‘ableism.’ ‘Ableism’ is a form of ‘discrimination which favours people without disabilities’ and therefore ‘harms disabled people.’ This definition and much more information is available in Tapestry's (2022), ‘A beginners guide to ableism.’







Lees, T. a. (2022). A beginners guide to ableism . Retrieved from Tapestry : https://bit.ly/3NoQMsQ


If you have any thought-provoking social media or online posts to share please email them to me at adam.marycz@markallengroup.com

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